Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.
So, Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen told the media Friday that he will be calling plays for the Birds’ offense in 2022.
Just as he did in 2021.
He hedged slightly, saying he will be calling the plays but it will be a “group effort” with head coach Nick Sirianni.
Just as it was in 2021.
What’s old is new again, apparently.
If Sirianni has relinquished most of the play-calling to his offensive coordinator, I wildly applaud that decision.
Nothing against Sirianni, whose first year as Eagles coach exceeded expectations.
In the chaos of an NFL sideline, I prefer someone with fewer duties running the show. Give me a clear-eyed, sharp-minded offensive coordinator whose charge is calling plays within the parameters of the game plan.
On an NFL Sunday, the head coach is likely being pulled in a dozen directions. Let Sirianni oversee the entire team and let Steichen play to his strengths — working with his quarterback running the offense.
I’ll be the first to admit I do not the inner-workings of an NFL team or coaching staff and how they function and interact together. I’ll also predict 99.9 percent of the planet doesn’t know how it works, either.
I do know this about NFL coaching. The workload is relentless and overwhelming. You hear tall tales about NFL head coaches sleeping on their office sofas so they can spend more time at work.
If head coaches are that overworked, it sounds as if the right thing is to delegate play-calling responsibilities.
I also like that Sirianni will keep his hand in play-calling. The Eagles offense was ranked 12th in the league and that was accomplished with a young quarterback on a rebuilding team.
The Eagles hope to surpass that success this year with a more seasoned Jalen Hurts behind a healthy offensive line and A.J. Brown leading the receiving corps.
“I’ll be calling the plays, but it is a complete group effort, Steichen said. “It’s a complete group effort from the top down. It starts with Nick as the head coach. He does a hell of a job game-planning. Then we go from there.
“On game day, he’s the head coach, and if he wants something called, he’ll tell me, and I’ll get it called.”
WHAT IF THIS DOESN’T WORK?
So, is this a good move by the Eagles? We won’t know until the regular season begins. We might know early if this system isn’t working.
We don’t know if the Eagles, who are riding the crest of expectations, will be patient as the season unfolds. The Eagles expect success this year. What happens if they don’t see much progress early?
Will Sirianni allow his offensive coordinator the room to grow and the freedom to call the offense as he wishes?
Last year, Sirianni was the main play-caller until about midseason, as the Eagles started 2-4. Then, Steichen took on more of the lead role in calling plays.
The Eagles went from a pass-happy offense early in the season to a run-first mentality after Steichen took over. The Eagles led the NFL in rushing in 2021.
Sirianni gave credit to Steichen late in the season, then mentioned the two both had been calling the plays.
“Obviously, Shane and I have been calling the game together the entire year,” Sirianni said in December.
“For whatever reason, I get credit — or the other way around when it doesn’t go well — for the play-calling. But Shane and I have been calling it together the entire year. Shane has done a great job there.”
STEICHEN HAS STRONG BACKGROUND
Steichen has a serious pedigree in offensive football. Before coming to the Eagles, the UNLV graduate spent seven years with the high-powered Chargers, working alongside Sirianni.
With the Chargers, Steichen worked with quarterbacks Philip Rivers and Justin Herbert. Rivers made three Pro Bowls and Herbert was 2020 Pro Football Writers of America Rookie of the Year during that time.
“I think last year we were a new staff, and we were evolving as an offense, so as the season got going on, I ended up taking over more of the play-calling midseason,” Steichen said.
“Nick has a stamp on every single thing we do. So, in the meeting rooms he has a stamp on everything we do, every play that’s on that call sheet, he makes sure it’s justified, boom, and we’re good to go.
“So going forward, I’ll be calling the plays next year, and we’ll go from there.”
Sirianni wanted Steichen to work with Hurts and he obviously wants that to continue. Sirianni knows this simple fact: As Hurts goes, so go the Eagles.